Assuming that there’s an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, there could be an 82-game season.
The Players Association reportedly has countered MLB’s proposal of a sliding scale with a request for more games. The owners want a regular season that begins early in July and a lengthened postseason that concludes by early November before a possible second wave of the coronavirus hits.
The owners want to make sure to get the postseason in because that’s when they make the most television money.
How would an 82-game season affect the Orioles?
Last season, the Orioles were 24-58 in their first 82 games, and 32-50 in their final 82.
Interestingly, they scored consecutive 13-0 shutouts over Cleveland in games 81 and 82, the first time in baseball history any team had done that. Just before those wins, the Orioles had lost 13 of 14.
Extrapolated over a 162-game season, the 32-50 second half would allow the Orioles to escape 100 losses. The first 82 game record had them on pace for a second consecutive 115-game loss season.
The Orioles ended up with a 54-108 record, a seven-game improvement over 2018, but the second half of the season was far better than the first.
Some of the players’ performances differed dramatically.
Take catcher Pedro Severino. In the first 82 games, Severino hit .278 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs. He threw out 10 of 27 runners attempting to steal.
Over the second 82 games, he hit just .218 with four home runs and 21 RBIs. Severino threw out just three of 28 runners.
Dwight Smith Jr. hit .254 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs in the first 82 games, but in the last 82, hit just .211 with two home runs and nine RBIs.
John Means was 7-4 with a 2.50 ERA through June, and for the rest of the season went 5-7 with a 4.65 ERA in July, August and September.
Looking at the bullpen, Paul Fry struggled tremendously, especially in August and September. Through 82 games, Fry was 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA. He finished the season with a 5.34 ERA because of an 8.38 August ERA and a 10.29 ERA in September. Fry lost all six decisions in the last two months of the season. In July, he had a 1.08 ERA.
Then, there were players who did better in the second half. Outfielder Anthony Santander was called up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June and displayed excellent power numbers in July and August. He hit 12 home runs and 34 RBIs then before slumping to a .155 average in September.
Major league evaluators are used to looking at players over a full 162-game season. While Severino and Smith may do better as backups, if they were judged over just the first 82 games last year, the team’s opinion of them might have been different.
With a larger roster and a possible 20-man taxi squad, many pitchers might accumulate far fewer innings pitched than in a normal half-season because teams will err on the side of caution.
But if the Orioles are looking at a new player, how much of an evaluation can be made in a radically shortened season?
Some players were more consistent. Infielder Hanser Alberto was hitting .320 through 82 games, and he was still hitting .320 as late as September 11 before tiring and finishing with a .305 average.
Trey Mancini was hitting .296 through 82 games and finished with a .291 average. Mancini ended the season strongly with a .365 batting average, 23 RBIs and a 1.049 OPS in September.
Minor leaguers getting paid: The Orioles will continue to pay their minor leaguers $400 per week throughout June, an industry source confirmed on Thursday.
The news was first reported by MASNsports.com.
Most major league teams will continue to pay their minor leaguers. The Oakland Athletics have decided not to.
Late last week, the Orioles released 37 minor league players. The most prominent was third baseman Jomar Reyes, who signed with the team as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic for $350,000 in January 2014.
Reyes, who spent the past four seasons at High-A Frederick, and hit .269 in his minor league career, had one at-bat for Double-A Bowie last year.
Preston Palmeiro and Dalton Hoiles, sons of Rafael and Chris, were also among those released. Infielder Sean Miller, a Crofton product who was a Carolina League All-Star last year, was also among those cut.
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